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24.02.2018 |

Could WA be the genetic testing ground for 'synthetic mice' to end mice?

Louise Sales, a campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth, rents a desk at the back of an Edwardian brick building in Hobart. It was there in November that she opened an email to find a trove of digital documents - 1200 emails, contracts and meeting minutes.

"I was shocked," said Sales, who trained as a biologist, with a masters degree in biodiversity and conservation. "And then outraged. But I'd already started to smell a rat."

Months before, an article at The Conversation had described new gene technologies that offered "a humane, targeted way to wipe out alien pest species such as mice … Conservationists are understandably excited."

Sales wasn't. The documents in her inbox, from a Freedom of Information request by an NGO called Third World Network, described a proposal to release "synthetic rodents" on six Western Australia islands and two US sites in the Pacific.

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